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Using the Exchange Server Remote Connectivity Analyzer Tool (Part 2)

If you missed the first part in this article series please read Using the Exchange Server Remote Connectivity Analyzer Tool (Part 1).

In the previous article we tested the Autodiscover services for Outlook 2007. Now we are going to continue the same test however we are going to test Autodiscover and Outlook Anywhere at the same time.

In order to test Outlook Anywhere we should select the option Perform Outlook Anywhere Test, and then the result will have an extra section as shown in the Figure 01.


Figure 01

If we expand the Test Steps section under the Testing RPC/HTTP connectivity section, we will be able to validate all steps performed by the tool to check that Outlook Anywhere is working. Basically, the 443 port will be tested, SSL Certificate if it matches the current name used by Outlook Anywhere, and so forth.

Because we are using the first option which is Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 Autodiscover Connectivity Test, the Autodiscover will find out what name is being used for Outlook Anywhere. Just to make sure that we are on the same page, open your Exchange Management Console, expand Server Configuration, click on Client Access and on the right side you should be able to see at least one server with the column Outlook Anywhere Enabled with a True value, if you do not see this then you need to enable Outlook Anywhere first. If it is enabled you just need to right click on one of the CAS servers that are accessible from the Internet through your firewall and go to the Outlook Anywhere tab, as shown in Figure 02. The name specified in the External host name field will be used by Autodiscover service and it will be given to the external Outlook 2007 to connect externally.


Figure 02

We can use the first option to test both: Autodiscover and Outlook Anywhere. We do not need to specify any information to test Outlook Anywhere because this information is coming from the Autodiscover service.

Finally, if you are using an internal PKI you can use the option Ignore Trust for SSL and you will be able to test your environment even though you do not have a certificate issued by a valid external Certification Authority.

Testing Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 RPC/HTTP Connectivity

The second option on the main page of ExRCA tool is to perform Outlook 2003 RPC/HTTP Connectivity, which allows an administrator to test the Outlook Anywhere (former RPC over HTTP) feature. This test is specifically to test RPC over HTTP and that is why you need to add more information in the wizard than you did in the previous test.

This test can be used to test RPC over HTTP against Exchange Server 2003 and Exchange Server 2007 as well. It is easier to test RPC over HTTP against Exchange Server 2007 in the first selection of the ExRCA main page because all information requested in this current wizard will be provided by the Autodiscover service and you do not have to type it in.

Okay, now that we are aware that we can use this test as a shortcut to test just RPC over HTTP for Exchange Server 2007 and Exchange Server 2003, let’s select Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 RPC/HTTP Connectivity Test and click on Next in the ExRCA main page. Figure 03 will be displayed and we can see that more information is required than the last ExRCA test. All information requested in this wizard is related to RPC over HTTP configuration that you should have configured in your Outlook clients, if you are not sure about the information to fill out in this form you can peek from any Outlook 2003/2007 client already configured to use RPC over HTTP, as shown in Figure 04, and then click on Perform Test.


Figure 03


Figure 04

The result will be all steps performed by the tool using the information entered in the wizard to connect RPC over HTTP in your Exchange Server organization, as shown in Figure 05. We can look at the end of the log generated and we will be able to see that the tool was able to RPC ping the internal server and also in the last line that the credential used was able to log on to the Information Store.


Figure 05

Some administrators, when creating the dummy account to be used with ExRCA, configure the account to Hide from Exchange Address Lists and during the ExRCA RPC over HTTP tests the error shown in Figure 06 will be seen. To resolve this issue, just make sure that the user does not have the Hide from Exchange Address List attribute selected.


Figure 06

Testing Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync Autodiscover

If you have clients using Windows Mobile 6.1 they are able to use Autodiscover services to configure their devices automatically. The following table explains the differences related to Mobile Messaging features among Windows Mobile versions http://www.microsoft.com/windowsmobile/en-us/meet/version-compare.mspx.

If you have at least Windows Mobile 6.1 you will be able to use the same method that Outlook 2007 uses to get your mail configuration, as shown in Figure 07 and 08. After that the user just needs to select which folder he wants to keep synchronized and that all the end-user need to configure is their device to access Exchange Server.


Figure 07


Figure 08

On the main ExRCA page , select Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync Autodiscover Test and click on Next. Fill out the next page with the user credentials and we can also test an ActiveSync connection with the Server clicking on Perform Exchange ActiveSync Test, this test will connect in the specified user mailbox and it will retrieve the estimated number of messages.

The result of the test is shown in Figure 09. We can validate that the tool uses Autodiscover to get information and after that it will try to connect using ActiveSync methods in the Autodiscover virtual directory, and finally the number estimated of the messages is retrieved from the mailbox.


Figure 09

Testing Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync

We can also test ActiveSync without getting information from Autodiscover like we have seen in the previous test. If you want to just test Activesync for Windows Mobile just click on Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync Test in the ExRCA main page, and click on Next. Fill out the form with the user credentials and ActveSync information, and you can also select Synchronize All Items in Inbox folder and synchronization will occur and the steps performed by the tool can be tracked down, as shown in Figure 10.


Figure 10

Inbound SMTP Email Test

The last option of ExRCA tool is to test the inbound SMTP - this makes the process of testing incoming traffic easier than testing manually.  The process of testing incoming traffic manually can be summarized in these steps:

  1. Use nslookup to find out the MX records of the specified domain.

  2. Send a test message using telnet on port 25 using each MX recorded listed in the previous query. For more information how to use telnet to test SMTP communication you can check KB 153119.

This test can be used by any mail administrator and it does not require an Exchange Server because it uses steps and procedures common to any SMTP server.

In order to use ExRCA to test inbound mail flow, select Inbound SMTP Email Test and click on Next. Fill out the form with a valid e-mail address and the verification code, and click on Perform Test. The result will be displayed, as shown in Figure 11, and for each MX record listed in your external DNS a message will be sent.


Figure 11

The content of the message has the MX record tested and also the e-mail address used by ExRCA, as shown in Figure 12.


Figure 12

Conclusion

In this second article we have just seen how to use ExRCA to test Outlook Anywhere /RPC over HTTP, ActiveSync and also SMTP Inbound. When using this tool we do not need to use any external clients to validate and we also have a log file which contains all the steps performed by ExRCA that will be helpful during a troubleshooting process.

If you missed the first part in this article series please read Using the Exchange Server Remote Connectivity Analyzer Tool (Part 1).